The Chimney Sweep – Five Questions

The Chimney Sweep is coming in November! Here’s what you need to know, and why you should absolutely read this novella!

 

Q:  What is The Chimney Sweep about?

A:  George Elf is sick and tired of stuffing gifts down chimneys. He wants a life of adventure, but he’s stuck repeating the same routine every year. One night, he makes a bit too much noise and wakes a human—a detective who’s pretty sure he’s a drug addict breaking into her home. After a night of misunderstandings and adventure, George finds himself stuck between a rock and a hard place. He must choose between three options handed down to him by the Big Elf himself, Santa Claus. He only has a week to figure out what he wants before he disappears forever.

Q:  What genre is the novella?

A:  It’s difficult to categorize, but if I had to… romance? There’s a love story at the core, but it’s also a bit of a coming-of-age story for George as he learns about humans and where he fits in the grand scheme of life. It’s a comedic approach to something sweet and sentimental, with a touch of heart-achy sadness. There’s also a ton of fourth-wall breaking to be had, so get ready to talk to yourself regularly.

Q:  What rating is The Chimney Sweep?

A:  Probably a solid PG-13. It does deal with death and heartache, but there are no “adult” situations that are found in most romance novels/novellas. A few kisses, but nothing more. It’s a fun read that would probably be okay for 15 and up.

Q:  Why should I read The Chimney Sweep?

A:  Do you like to laugh? Yes? That’s why. On a serious note, it captures the sentimentality of Christmas, injects it with a bit of humor, love, and sarcasm, then presents it to you in a neatly-wrapped package with a bright red bow.

Q:  Can we expect a sequel, or another story related to The Chimney Sweep?

A:  Maybe! I haven’t ruled it out, but it would definitely be released closer to the holiday. Keep your eyes peeled November 2019!

(Psst… check below for an excerpt from the book!)

Front Cover

Excerpt from The Chimney Sweep!

She held the shotgun up, aiming at my chest. Oh, you thought I was short, didn’t you? That’s another misconception about elves. No pointy ears, normal height, normal weight, and we don’t always wear red and green. Okay, so maybe we wear red and green a lot, but the rest of that stuff is all made up.

“Who are you?” she demanded. Well, that’s a loaded question, no pun intended.

“G-G-George,” I stuttered. I’d never met a normal person before, definitely not one who aimed to take my head off, so I was nervous. Who am I kidding? I was wishing I hadn’t had that last mug of hot cocoa, because her domineering presence in the room made me want to pee my pants.

“Well, G-G-George, what are you doing in my house?”

My lips parted, but words failed to escape. I felt so pulled to her after the sarcasm fell from her lips, I almost forgot she was willing to kill me. She was a woman after my own heart.

And here’s where things started to get a bit dicey. I know it was already bad. She was holding a gun on me, but things could always get worse. We elves have a script for this kind of thing. We’re supposed to convince them they’re dreaming and get them back to bed, then make a mad dash for the sleigh and get the heck out of Dodge. But when I looked into those emerald eyes again, I knew she wouldn’t buy it. So, I went off-script, which is bad. Very bad. You see, whenever an adult human learns of the existence of elves, an elf dies a terrible, painful death.

I’m kidding. Had you going though, didn’t I? But seriously, she could have shot me and fed me to her dog, and not a soul would know because, you know, I’m a mythical creature. But I did it anyway. I mean, if I’m going to die it may as well be at the hands of a beautiful creature. Where was I? Oh yeah, shotgun.

“Uh, I’m not sure you’ll believe me if I tell you the truth.” I’ll admit, it wasn’t the best way to gain her trust, but it was all I had.

“I’m a detective. I doubt there’s anything you could say that would shock me,” she replied, never letting the gun drop.

I didn’t blame her, honestly. Who wouldn’t be terrified if someone dropped down your chimney one night carrying a bag big enough to stuff a body in? On top of that, I don’t look like most humans. I mean, I am human, we’ve already discussed that, but I am what my mother calls “devilishly handsome.” My hair is black, and my eyes are so deep a shade of brown, they appear black in dim lighting. My sharp features only add to the illusion that I am the devil himself. I swear I’m a nice guy, but to her, I looked like the devil come to take her to Hell.

“I… I’m an elf. I’m here to… uh, deliver presents?” It was meant to be a statement, but at that point, even I was questioning who I was and what I was doing.

Her green eyes took me in, top to bottom, several times. A wicked smile spread across her face before she erupted into a fit of laughter. She lowered the gun long enough to calm herself, but I suspected that she could easily prepare herself and shoot me in the gut before I could take a single step in her direction. She was beautiful indeed, but she carried an air of authority and dominance, and I dare not challenge it, especially in her own home.

“What are you on, idiot?” She maintained her relaxed frame, but her grip on the gun remained true.

“What am I on? I don’t understand? Um… on, what am I… oh! The floor! I’m on the floor!” I took a chance and lowered my arms to my sides, careful not to appear as if I were reaching for something. I learned that when I watched a western movie at the Elf Library.

“No, I meant, what are you taking?” she asked again, frustration lacing her tone.

“Oh, I see. No, no, I’m not a burglar. I’m an elf. I leave things. I do not take them,” I replied, quite satisfied with my answer and assuming she would be also. I wasn’t there to steal her things, so that should make her happy, I reasoned. She sighed and closed her eyes, took a breath and spoke again.

“Drugs, idiot. What drugs have you been taking?” she asked. “Methamphetamines? That has to be it. You’re hopping around like a meth addict.”

“Uh… elves don’t use meth. We tried it once, but it slows us down. We couldn’t meet our daily toy-making quota.” I replied, then she rolled her eyes and picked up her cell phone from the counter beside her, checking the time.

“It’s late, so the shelters are already closed. I’m sorry, I’ll have to take you to the precinct until I can get you to a shelter or something tomorrow.”

“You don’t understand. I’m not a criminal on drugs. I’m an elf and I’m…” I realized telling her would never convince her of the truth. I had to show her. “Okay listen, just go look on the roof where I parked the sleigh, and I swear you’ll believe me,” I begged.

“You want me to leave you alone in my house while I go outside to look for reindeer on the roof?” she asked, skeptical as all adult humans are.

“Precisely,” I said. Now she was getting the idea!

She stood staring at me for a long time before she raised the shotgun and waved it toward the door. “You first elf man.”

Psych Ward – Five Questions (Plus One For Fun)

Psych Ward is coming October 1!

Here’s what you need to know.

Q:  Why is Psych Ward different from other thrillers?

A:  Have you ever read a thriller and thought the characters were a little too put together? Especially the civilians thrown into the drama? Think of Psych Ward as a peek into how normal, non-violent, civilians might behave if suddenly tossed into the deep end with a dozen assassins and spies, bad guys around every corner, non-stop action, and nagging love stories that just won’t die. I think a lot of people will relate to Chase because he’s a normal guy who got royally screwed over by his girlfriend. He’s mad, and he wants answers. He’s dramatic, confused, and can’t quite move on until he’s satisfied his sweet tooth. Psych Ward has a little of everything: mystery, romance, action, loads of sarcasm, humor, and a lot of running (like, a LOT).

Q:  Is Psych Ward a fast or slow-paced read?

A:  There are a few slower parts to build the history and to transition between action sequences, but for the most part it’s go, go, go! They are in a fight for their lives, after all.

Q:  What can we expect from other books in the series?

A:  The second and third books are prequels to Psych Ward. Those volumes will bring the reader up to speed and offer a solid foundation for why the incidents in Psych Ward occur. You’ll learn a lot more about a few characters from book one, but the feel will be the same—a mix of trained assassins and a few bumbling civilians. The rest of the series picks up after the events in Psych Ward and dives deeper into—well, why would I tell you when you can just read and find out?

Q:  What rating would you give Psych Ward and the entire Assassin’s Memoir Series?

A:  R-rated, definitely. There are scenes with violence and mayhem, loads of adult language and situations, graphic depictions of murder, etc. I wouldn’t read this one to my child as a bedtime story for sure!

Q:  Why did you choose to write a thriller? You usually write YA or comedic romance.

A:  I wanted to try something different, but it turns out I’m a little too sarcastic for the thriller genre. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t turn off the sarcasm and focus on murdering people. That said, I thought “what the heck?” and added MORE sarcasm and sass, pushed the characters to their absolute limits, and threw in a touch of comedic relief. Voila! I wrote a thriller that portrays real people. Let’s face it. We’d all like to think we could Jason Bourne our way out of a hot mess, but, it’s just not that easy.

Q:  Why did you use a pen name for this series:

A:  Because I love my Young Adult readers, and I would hate to give them nightmares. I wanted to differentiate this series from my usual work. To do that, I chose to work under a different name, so it didn’t appear in the searches for my YA work.

Final Front Cover with Penname

photo credit to Zachary Jayden, Popwrapped

Cover model Daniel Rengering, RengerINC.